A healthy aquarium is apparently impossible without an aquarium filter. Several types of aquarium filters prevail in the market. Among them, HOB (Hang On Back) filters are ubiquitous and also very popular.
Buying a perfect filter for your aquarium is not a pretty simple task. First and foremost, you want to know the features of a filter. Besides, you obviously would seek different opinions and want to know the experiences people have before making any final decision.
Keeping in mind, I have chosen the six best HOB filters for you with notable features. I personally used three of them and selected other filters according to my fellow aquarists’ real-time observations.
Comparison Table: Best HOB Filters
What is A HOB (Hang On Back) Filter?
Hang on the back filters, usually sits at the rear end of the tank, as the name suggests. But, you can hang them over virtually at any position you wish.
They can be called one kind of external filter, but not like a canister filter that remains entirely out of sight.
HOB filters are enclosed casings where everything you need is systematically placed to filter your aquarium water. Inside the container, they carry a pump, a motor, filter media, a long intake tube, and an opening to discharge the filtered water.
How to Choose the Right HOB Filter
It’s pretty evident that you need to buy a filter as per your aquarium size. However, it’s always good practice to buy a relatively bigger filter. Although that will cost you a few more bucks; however, it will save your time in maintenance and keep the aquarium in good condition.
Flow rate is a vital parameter to look at; flow requirement varies from tank to tank depending on the species (Fish or other critters). Most HOB filters nowadays have the option to adjust the flow rate.
HOB filters with high flow rates help oxygenate the water. Too low or too high a flow rate will hamper filtration efficiency.
The ideal flow rate is three-four times higher than your fish tank water volume. Suppose you have a typical 10-gallon aquarium; 30 gallons per hour flow rate would have been an excellent match for you.
Sound And Noise
The major irritating problem faced by aquarists having HOB filters is the noise. A noisy HOB filter will be disturbing for you to operate.
Therefore, before making any choice, you should make sure the unit is well known for quiet running. HOB filters with submersible pumps usually produce less noise.
Almost all HOB filters provide essential three-stage filtration with the media they contain. However, along with the default media, you would like to add your preferred filter elements according to your aquarium demand.
So, always look for HOB filters that have sufficient space to incorporate extra media.
Some of the HOB filters come with unique features like maintenance indicators, which will remind you when you require to clean or replace the media.
However, often the indicators yield wrong notification. So, special features like indicators shouldn’t be any significant criteria to consider. Those are nice to have but not a must-have feature.
Best HOB Filter Review
Seachem Tidal (Editor’s Choice)
The first in the Best HOB filter list is Seachem Tidal, and it’s also my preferred one. I have got excellent results using this filter and heard good feedback from others.
Seachem tidal power filter equipped with a surface skimmer, and is available for various sizes, fits in aquariums from 35 to 110 gallons. Suitable for freshwater and saltwater use.
The surface skimmer is designed to remove any surface slime or protein coat from the water. However, it can easily suck up small fries.
The main perk is this filter’s pump doesn’t need priming and remains inside the tank, under the water. Self-priming features are handy during power interruptions, especially when you’re not at home. Furthermore, this Seachem tidal pump is extremely QUIET.
The media box is large, with enough room to add extra materials to boost filtration efficiency. Water coming from the bottom has to go all through the media before opening out from the top.
Lifting the media basket and cleaning is super simple. Seachem tidal filters will let you know when you have to clean filter media with a blue pop-up indicator. The flow rate is easily adjustable if you need more gentle flow.
- It comes with a surface skimmer
- Self-priming pump
- Customizable spacious media box
- Adjustable flow rate
- It doesn’t allow water to bypass the media.
- Extraordinarily quiet
- Highly reliable
- Relatively large.
- The pump cover is difficult to remove, especially when wet.
- Some users mentioned water bypassing issues.
- Fish fry or small shrimp can suck in the surface skimmer.
Aquaclear power filter
Aquaclear power filters are popular among fishkeepers because of their versatility and availability for most common aquarium sizes ranging from 5 to 110 gallons. Its unique design allows more filter media volume and long water to media contact time.
Aquaclear offers three-stage filtration and uses foam and ceramic rings to trap debris and colonize beneficial bacteria. Activated carbon is in place to remove toxins, odor, and discoloration of water.
The media basket is easily possible to customize with your preferred filter media according to your tank needs. People find improved water clarity using some polishing material like poly-fill in between foam and ceramics rings.
There is only one way out to water flow, and the selling point is all the water must pass through filter media; no water bypassing. You can also be able to control the outflow using the filter’s flow control button.
It has re-filtration technology; if you reduce the water flow, the filter will treat 50% of water multiple times, so the reduced flow doesn’t mean reduced filtration. Lowering the flow can save operating costs, lessen the pressure on the impeller and extend the lifetime.
The filter runs quietly; although some found it a bit noisy, you need to look for any debris accumulated in the impeller. It’s pretty easy to access the impeller and clean it out.
- Available for various size aquarium
- The customizable large media basket
- No bypass flow of water
- It comes with essential filter media
- Cleaning and maintenance is easy
- Patented re-filtration technology
- Adjustable water flow
- Debris can confine in the impeller box
- Original Aquaclear filter media is expensive
- Small fish can get trapped inside the intake tube
- Using sand as a substrate can damage the impeller
- Some found it noisy.
Penn-Plax Cascade Hang-on Aquarium filter (Quietest)
If you are looking for the quietest filter on a budget, I recommend Penn-Plax cascade hang-on power filters. It’s available in six different sizes, the smallest one fits for up to 7 gallons, and the biggest one is suitable for 55 gallons to 100 gallons aquariums.
In addition to basic three-stage filtration, the ‘bio falls’ technology of this filter boosts biological filtration by optimizing bacteria colonization and removing ammonia and nitrate. ‘Bio-falls’ also split the water evenly at the exit and enhance oxygenation.
The filter includes sponges, activated carbon, and poly fiber floss cartridges in the spacious media basket.
The sponge helps bacteria to grow; poly floss removes particulate matter, carbon provides chemical filtration. You can easily add more media in the media chamber as per your demand.
The main perk of Penn-Plax HOB filters is they are super quiet. You can adjust flow whenever you need simply using the flow control knob. They are a fantastic fit for both freshwater and saltwater aquarium.
- Amazingly cheap.
- Extremely quiet
- Adjustable intake tube depth and flow rate
- Ample room for media
- Six different sizes are available.
- Easy to assemble.
- The length of the intake tube is relatively small.
- Large holes in the intake tube can suck tiny fishes.
- Supplied media aren’t the best of quality.
MarineLand Penguin PRO 450 Power Filter
Marineland pro power filter is another unique design high-quality HOB filter. It has a bigger compartment than any other HOB (Hang On Back) filter. Six different models of this brand cover 10 to 90 gallons aquariums and my best pick is MarineLand penguin PRO 450.
It has two separate chambers and two bio-wheels to provide adequate filtration. In between two sections, strategically designed a place to put additional filter media. The two big baskets also give you tons of opportunities to append filter media and boost filtration as per your tank needs.
Like other HOB filters in the list, it also has an option to fine-tune the outflow. The long intake tube is adjustable too. The bio-wheel technology of this filter is there to enhance bacteria colonization, therefore, improve biological filtration. A small portion of return water continuously sprays over bio-wheels to keep them wet.
The self-priming pump is another attractive feature, and the pump runs very quietly. Not to be mentioned, Marineland power filters are suitable to use in all types of aquariums.
- Quiet operation
- Self-priming pump
- Large media room available
- The long adjustable intake tube
- Superior biological filtration with bio-wheel technology
- Easy to control the flow rate
- Some user mentioned water bypassing
- Bio-wheels sometimes stop rotating
Aqueon QuietFlow LED PRO Aquarium Power Filter
The Aqueon Quietflow LED pro series has gained popularity among aquarists, reflecting on the filter’s star rating. I’ve also got positive remarks in various fish forums, where people share their experiences and suggest products to fellow aquarists.
This filter series’s internal pump design eliminated noise (exceptionally quiet), leaks, and priming needs. Self- priming feature helps start the pump automatically after cleaning when you plugin or after power restoration. The pump’s high flow rate also ensures better oxygenation in the tank, maintains a healthy aquarium.
Using Aqueon Quiteflow, you can’t forget the maintenance; a LED light will flash when filter media are blocked by debris. However, many users complained that this feature doesn’t provide accurate notifications.
Aqueon Quietflow led series is highly efficient; the media basket also has lots of space to add different media to increase the filtration efficiency.
- Extremely quiet
- Better flow rate and oxygenation
- The media chamber has lots of space to customize
- Self- priming pump
- Self- priming feature sometimes doesn’t work
- The intake tube comparatives large and tends to hit the tank bottom
- The motor may seize if it runs dry
- LED indicators may give wrong signals
Aqua-Tech Power Aquarium Filter (Budget-Friendly)
The aqua-tech power filter is exceptionally cheap; you can get one for only under 40$, and it’s worth the money. In addition, the manufacturer offers two years warranty.
Aqua-tech power filter is a similar design to the MarineLand power filter, but sleeker and without a wheel. They have four models available; the maximum aquarium size they fit is 60 gallons.
The selling point of this filter is the motor. The motor remains submerged under the water, so no need to worried about power outages since it will start again immediately when power restores. Because of the submersible pump, it also produces zero noise.
The filter has two media baskets and two outlets. It is packaged with cartridge filter floss, carbon, and biotech biological grid to provide three-stage filtration.
The biotech grid is for better biological effect, eliminates ammonia and nitrite on contact, and the best part is, it doesn’t clog and never needs replacing. However, Like all other HOB filters in the list, you can use your own selected media.
- Relatively cheap
- Easy to clean the filter housing and the media
- Submersible motor
- Self-priming pump
- The biological filter element doesn’t need replacement
- large media basket
- Sleek design
- The motor is not replaceable, integrated with the filter.
- Noise from returning water like a waterfall
- Some users find a low water flow rate
When to Choose HOB’s over Other Filters
When to choose HOB filters over other types of filters is really confusing sometimes. However, the following are the cases when you can consider HOB filters.
You Have Small Tanks
You Are On Budgets
The price of the HOB filters is in an affordable range for the hobbyist. In contrast, canister filter prices are much higher because of their more complex design, and they can handle much more volume than HOB’s.
When you have the aquarium size, which is within the range of HOB filters to handle, and in addition, you are on a tight budget, you may purchase a HOB filter.
Easy Cleaning Requirement
Cleaning the hang on the back filter is simple; you just need to clean or replace the media based on the extent of clogging. On the contrary, canister filter maintenance is a more demanding task to do. So, if you are not fond of meticulous cleaning up, you had better buy a HOB filter.
You Are A Beginner
If you are a beginner and don’t want any hassle installing your filter, you should consider the HOB (hang on back) filter. You don’t need any extra material to place over your aquarium. After putting it on, plugin and switch on the electric button.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)on Hang on Back (HOB) Filter
HOB vs. Canister Filter – Which One is Better?
HOB’s and canister filters work on the same principle. Both types offer effective three-stage filtration. Which one is better? It depends on your fish tank requirement.
Below you’ll get some head-to-head comparisons of the canister filter and HOB filter.
- Higher capacity cleans more water per hour.
- Provides superior filtration media & more space in the media chamber.
- Go to filter for larger aquariums.
- Maintenace is painstaking.
- Best suits in small to mid-size tanks.
- Maintenance is simple.
- Affordable in price.
I have a detailed article on canister filter vs. HOB filter; you can read it if you want to know more.
How to Make HOB Filter Quieter?
HOB filters are, in general, quiet, and keeping your HOB filter running smoothly is easy. The only sound it generates while running is the noise of water splashing back into the aquarium. You can prevent this in few ways:
- Keep a high enough level of water so that any splash can’t happen.
- Add some filter floss or make a baffle arrangement to slow down the water flow.
If anything sticks into the pump impeller, it may create squeaking noise. If it seems your motor/impeller is making noise ensure the chamber is cleaned of any residue.
What is the best HOB filter for a 55-gallon aquarium?
The trick is to buy a slightly bigger size filter than your aquarium water volume. A bigger filter will keep the water parameters healthy for a more extended period of time. As a result, maintenance frequency will be lower, which is a time saver.
All the filters mentioned in this article are equally suitable to use in a 55-gallon aquarium. However, I would suggest the Seachem Tidal 75 Power Filter. It has many good features, is equipped with a built-in protein skimmer, features a self-priming pump, and is extremely quiet.
I hope my best HOB filter list and how to choose a HOB filter will tremendously help you decide while buying a filter. Among the mentioned HOB filters, my overall choice is Seachem Tidal.
I would like to hear from you; what filters are you using, and what is your best pick? Please leave a comment below.